Wellness in 2018: Community and Inclusion Drive Well-being
NEW OPPORTUNITIES PUSH THE BOUNDARIES FOR WELLNESS.
The proliferation of co-working venues has almost doubled since 2015, with 1,690,000 members projected for 2018—impressive, but not surprising. Ideally accommodating the gig economy and appealing to millennials on multiple levels, co-working spaces offer access to technology in a work environment free from long-term commitment and packed with generous amenities in a collegial, egalitarian setting. No cloistered cubicles, hierarchal structure, or mandated hours here. For work-life balance, enjoy the community and perks, set your own hours, pursue your passion—and wellness.
Although the success of co-working spaces is driven by multiple factors, a less touted but powerful advantage is the opportunity to pursue wellness, with inclusion a big part of the equation. Fundamental to happiness and wellbeing, the need to belong is primal. Research proves the point. Inclusion triggers positive responses in the brain that contribute to problem solving, collaboration, creativity, and an increased sense of self-worth. Exclusion, on the other hand, paves the way for error, low morale, and all that goes with it.
Big players like Microsoft, IBM, and Deloitte are jumping in to take advantage of the creative synergy pervasive in co-working environments as well as positioning themselves to easily identify and acquire promising start-ups. In 2016 Microsoft caused a stir when it gave 70% of its sales team in New York City access to co-working space at WeWork locations.
Taking it further for large companies, the creation of in-house, co-working innovation centers is trending. Case in point, the new headquarters for Service Master’s (SVM) Innovation Center in Memphis, TN. Designed by IA, the firm’s IT teams work on special projects, collaborating with outside consultants, as well as promising start-ups that occupy the Ground Floor, the center’s new incubator space for entrepreneurs.
On a holistic scale, in Irvine, CA, IA’s renovation and repositioning of a 15-acre urban campus, dubbed INTERSECT, integrates a wellness strategy and design into the physical infrastructure. On the premise that a community of like-minded tenants with shared values will empower one another, the goal was to attract health-focused businesses that could play a significant role in the campus’s success. Among others, tenants include a natural supplement developer working with the emerging science of MentaBiotics, a fitness company that will brand the extensive indoor/outdoor fitness center, and a restaurant group to occupy both office and restaurant space, providing organic food options using produce from the campus’s sustainable urban garden.
With wellness at its core, the site shares many characteristics of today’s co-working spaces. Community, fitness, and healthy nourishment are touchstones of the tenant experience. A bike-share program and walking trail, game pavilion, and other amenities keep tenants and guests interacting and on the move. A shaded dining deck, picnic tables—even a beer garden with video screen and fire pit—offer choices for dining, social events, and relaxing. In an effort to engage with the adjacent community, an area for farmers-market stalls/food trucks is integrated into the planning of the campus.
Both INTERSECT and the SVM Innovation Center create a sense of inclusive community intended to nurture a happier, healthier, and more creative environment, while inspiring the loyalty critical for retaining and attracting talent in current competitive markets. Where people thrive, fully accepted and among friends, they want to stay.